Arts Enclave's Blog

THE WIDENING SPIRAL OF THE NEWTOWN TRAGEDY

The wakes for Dawn Hochsprung and Rachel Davino were held this week in Woodbury. And although I didn’t know them personally, they were part of the small community I live in and I feel close to them.

The memorial services, wakes, and funerals have been spiraling all week around the state of Connecticut, starting on Monday with the funerals of 6-year-olds Noah Pozner in Fairfield and Jack Pinto in Newtown.

Newtown Remembers
Photo by Linda Peckel

On Tuesday, services were held at the St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown for James Mattioli, followed immediately by another one for Jessica Rekos. My cousin Michael, a caterer from Newtown who has been devoting her time to feeding volunteers, clergy and mourners as they come in to the church, told me “this feels like a very personal 9-11.”

Wednesday was the third day of funerals in Newtown, where a sweet woman I’ve come to know named JoAnn Bacon buried her 6-year old daughter, Charlotte. Daniel Barden was also buried that day, as was Caroline Previdi. Teacher Victoria Soto was buried by her family in Stratford.

Services on Thursday were again in Newtown, Danbury, Southbury, and heroic teacher Anne Marie Murphy was laid to rest in Katonah, NY. Today there are two more in Newtown, another in Watertown, and the burial of school psychologist Mary Sherlock in Trumbull.  And tomorrow, the parade of services continues, a full 8 days after the tragic shooting, including places as far away as Ogden, Utah, where a service will be held for Emilie Parker.

This particular horror is hitting everyone within about a 25 mile radius—and that involves a lot of towns—with at least 420,000 people by my count in those towns alone, having at least an indirect connection to the shooting, the town, the victims and their families.

The town of Newtown itself reports a population of about 4,200 people. Visit their website to see what this town was like before this, and you will understand the remarkable resilience and dignity they are showing as a community. They are teaching us how to finally learn that is not who did what, or even why, but what horrors can be unleashed when someone has the notion—and access to an arsenal.

While there are many complex issues that are sure to be unearthed here, including violence in video games, and the risk of mental illness to the community, the involvement of these issues is not yet known. What is known is there were semi-automatic weapons used—weapons that gave a scrawny 20-year-old the lethal power to kill 26 people in the space of less than an hour, plus his mother and himself.

There is simply no good reason for anyone to have these weapons. I wouldn’t want them in the hands of the President or even the Dali Lama. They are designed for one purpose: MASSACRE. And they do their job well.

We were shocked at Columbine (which was not even the first mass shooting), but then time passed. Then Virginia Tech happened and we recovered. And somehow we even moved past the atrocity in Aurora last summer—all without understanding that we needed to change things.

And then it came so close—for me just 20 miles away.  I told someone just 2 days before the shooting that Woodbury was like “Mayberry in a snow globe.”  And then Friday morning came, and the illusion of an idyllic little town in the country was shattered. And now I realize we can’t wait any longer for things to change. We have to change them ourselves.

If you think you are safe where you live or work, then it’s time to think again…because this is a traveling road show, and soon it will be coming to your town.

It’s time to get serious about gun control—before even one more life is lost.

HOW TO REMEMBER THE PEOPLE OF NEWTOWN

Finally, today, the national press has moved out, and the story is no longer a headline, so the real healing begins.  For the people of Western Connecticut, and many others, we have been invited to visit the memorials, to understand and share the burden (as the President so eloquently put it), and to let these families know that the legacy of their children and beloved staff from the school will live on and make a real difference in the world they leave behind.

It’s simple and it’s obvious:  Support Gun Control Legislation

My friend Dinah, who has lived in Newtown for much of her life and knows many of the victim’s families, told me that she and other residents do not want Newtown to be remembered for the horror that occurred there. “We want it to be remembered as the place where change began,” she said.

MOVING ON

With a moment of silence observed this morning at 9:30, official mourning came to an end a week after the tragedy, and now the true grieving begins, as life slowly moves forward with huge holes in the fabric of the future.

The Marquez-Green family, while mourning the loss of Ana Marquez-Greene, issued this public statement: “We also ask that you, like Ana, commit selfless acts of kindness to all those around you. Maybe, in some way, through love, similar senseless acts of violence could be prevented.”

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO FOR NEWTOWN?

1)   Donate to help the defray the costs of funerals (national average $27,000) (see obits below)

2)   Encourage your children to give up violent games and movies

3)    Take the toy guns out from under the tree and replace them something else your child can learn to love

4)    Hang one angel from your tree to remind you

5)   Write/email your congressman to enact gun control legislation regulating the sale of semi-automatic or automatic weapons

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR CONGRESSMAN

6) Talk about it – make sure this never happens again, and help those affected to heal

And the most important of all,

FORGET THE SHOOTER. DON’T SAY HIS NAME or let it live on to encourage others.

BUT REMEMBER THE NAMES of those who gave their lives on December 14, 2012 in hopes that the loss of their lives brings change to the way we live together (click on the names for links to obituaries as published locally):

Charlotte Bacon

Daniel Barden

Olivia Engel

Josephine Gay

Ana M. Marquez-Greene

Dylan Hockley

Madeleine F. Hsu

Catherine V. Hubbard

Chase Kowalski

Jesse Lewis

James Mattioli

Grace McDonnell

Emilie Parker

Jack Pinto

Noah Pozner

Caroline Previdi

Jessica Rekos

Avielle Richman

Benjamin Wheeler

Allison N. Wyatt

 

ADULTS:

Rachel Davino

Anne Marie Murphy

Lauren Rousseau

Victoria Soto

Mary Sherlock

 Principal Dawn Hochsprung

DO WHAT YOU CAN—IT MATTERS

Visiting Memorials in Sandy Hook
Photo by Linda Peckel

My cousin Michael, a caterer who lives in Newtown, has spent the whole week at the St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, where 8 of the funerals were held, preparing food for volunteers, clergy, fireman and mourners.  “When I finally realized I could be at the church making sandwiches, it made me feel so much better,” she said.

Michael relayed a sense of hope and appreciation for all of the people who have made gestures of all kinds to the town and the families. “I can tell you from the inside that the phone has been ringing off the hook, and I know it sounds trite, but the offers that come through of money and help mean so much—I’ve never seen so many people mobilize for the greater good. These are people helping in any way they can, and it’s very healing for the rest of us.”

KEEP IT UP!

For my friends who knew her, and those of us who know her mother JoAnn, 

this post is dedicated in loving memory to Charlotte Bacon (2/22/06-12/14/12).

 

 

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